Justin Smith Morrill (April 14, 1810 – December 28, 1898) was a Representative (1855–1867) and a Senator (1867–1898) from Vermont. He spearheaded the Morrill Acts that established federal funding for founding many of the United States' public colleges and universities. He was one of the founders of the Republican Party.
See below the Justin Smith Morrill Quote in seeking to have the land-grant institutions established in 1862 admit freed slaves:
"Having emancipated a whole race, shall it be said that there our duty ends, leaving the race as cumberers of the ground, to live or to wilt and perish, as the case may be? They are members of the American family, and their advancement concerns us all. While swiftly forgetting all they ever knew as slaves, shall they have no opportunity to learn anything as freemen?"
Justin Morrill's Vision for Land-grant Colleges
The First Morrill Act of 1862 established at least one college in every State "upon a sure and perpetual foundation, accessible to all, but especially to the sons of toil, where all of needful science for the practical avocations of life shall be taught, where neither the higher graces of classical studies nor that military drill our country now so greatly appreciates will be entirely ignored, and where agriculture, the foundation of all present and future prosperity, may look for troops of earnest friends, studying its familiar and recondite economies, and at last elevating it to that higher level where it may fearlessly invoke comparison with the most advanced standards of the world."
The Morrill Vision – Relic or Relevant?
Justin Morrill, the Father of Land Grant Institutions, was a magnanimous leader of his time and his vision is needed just as much today as it was more than 150 years ago. His vision was all about education, opportunity and national prosperity. He held to the belief that if there is a nation with a class of people, a race of people or underrepresented citizens who do not have education and opportunity, this nation would greatly fall short of its potential.
Why Was the Second Morrill Act Needed?
As the forefathers truly digested the new educational mind set for the 1800s – educating the common man, providing educational opportunity for all – a very foundational working group had been overlooked. The Second Morrill Act of 1890 included this class of laborers. In 1865, about four million, hard-working, but primarily illiterate blacks were set free from slavery. Although it was in the best interest of the nation to set a course of education for this group, little attention had been paid to their needs. Sadly, there was even entrenched resistance to providing opportunities to this segment of the population who helped build this nation while being considered as an underclass, or as having no "class" at all. However, Congress did pass the Second Morrill Act of 1890 which included the stipulation that African Americans were to be included in the U.S. Land Grant University Higher Education System without discrimination. The seventeen (17) Southern and Border States would not consent to this admission of blacks to their institutions. Therefore, in the legislation, it was allowable for these seventeen states to found a second land-grant institution, which became known as the Negro Land-Grant Institutions and today as the 1890 Land-Grant Universities and Tuskegee University (the 1890s). Today there are eighteen (18) states that have 1890 Land-Grant Universities. The 2014 Farm Bill included Central State University from the state of Ohio.